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Saturday, July 3, 2010

I Wonder How the Vikings Handled Tooth Care. . .

I'm in the middle of a dental nightmare at the moment. After going 44 years with minimal tooth problems, unless you count braces as a tooth problem, I have now had two weeks of "open wide."

It all started at my twice yearly check-up on June 15. Nothing out of the ordinary except I was experiencing some intermittent pain when I chewed food and it hit the tooth just right. The dentist got a special light and sure enough, there was a crack in #30, second molar from the back on the lower right side. A crown was in order.

Back to the dentist on June 24 to prep the tooth for the temporary crown. You know what was coming. . . Novocaine, needles, filing down of the tooth, making a mold, etc. The temporary crown was on and I was scheduled to come back in a week for the permanent crown. But now, the pain was no longer intermittent, it was most of the time, AND it even hurt to eat watermelon!

So, when I returned to the dentist on July 1 and reported the change in pain, it was decided that a root canal was needed. The placing of the permanent crown was delayed until after the root canal. A call was made and voila, I was scheduled for a root canal the next day--July 2.

I drove 100 miles to the endodontist and made it through the hour long procedure. The temporary crown was replaced after being taken off for the procedure. I left the office with the whole right side of my head numb and several dollars poorer to make the 100 mile drive home. By 4:45pm, the temporary crown had popped off.

Have you ever tried to get in touch with a medical profession on a Friday at 5:00 before a long holiday week-end? Yeah, I had that kind of luck, too. I first called the endodontist's office--Closed. So, I called the after hours number--no answer--left a message. Then I called the dentist's office--Closed, but I left a message. I called the dentist at home--OK, a bit uncomfortable, but I was desperate. No answer--left a message. (I recalled that he told me they were going on vacation!) I then called the home of one of the dental hygienists with whom I have an acquaintance. No answer--left a message.

After all those calls and all those messages, the first one to return my call was the endodontist who is 100 miles away! He reassured me that the tooth would be OK and to just get to my dentist as soon as possible the next week. I thanked him for his time and returning my call. The next return call came from the dental hygienist. She was also reassuring and confirmed my previously received advice. She added, "Don't chew on ice" trying to avoid breaking what is left of the tooth. We both laughed at my first dental encounter. Since she cleans my teeth she kind of knows what is going on in there. Yeah, yeah, I am still trying to see the humor!

Here I am. The crown sitting on the window sill above the kitchen sink, waiting until, hopefully Monday, to make a call to the dentist's office and get the permanent crown with sore and slightly swollen gums. In the meantime, I am trying to chew only on my left side and avoid running my tongue over what is left of tooth #30.

I am going to frame this up as being lucky that this is the only issue I have had with my teeth. This re-framing is going to be even easier when the pain goes away and I can chew evenly on both sides of my mouth. And, since it is the 4th of July week-end, I may have to avoid corn on the cob and watermelon. There's always Labor Day!

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